Scientists in Olomouc tested a special device for analyzing plant properties in field conditions

Photo: Martina Šaradínová
Thursday 19 August 2021, 8:00 – Text: Martina Šaradínová

Plant ScreenTM Field System mobile phenotyping device has been tested by PSI for the first time in field conditions in cooperation with scientists from the Olomouc workplace of the Crop Research Institute and the Czech Advanced Technologies and Research Institute - CATRIN Palacký University. In a calendula covered field, experts collected data on the growth and flowering dynamics of 32 genotypes of this medicinal plant. The aim of cooperation between the three institutions is to enhance the procedure for obtaining data about the content of biologically active substances by non-invasive methods based on the analysis of spectral properties of plants.

"Lighting conditions change in different parts of the day and year. We must learn to normalize the measurements so that the data is transferable regardless of the lighting conditions. The obtained information about the color properties of the vegetation, its height, density, amount of biomass, color, homogeneity of the stand and the like are important for further research," said Petr Tarkowski, head of Olomouc branch of Crop Research Institute, who also works at CATRIN.

The mobile device was operating in a field where the research institute had planted 32 representative genotypes of calendula. In addition to automatic measurements, the researchers also measured some parameters manually on this unique sample so that they could compare the results with each other. They then perform a chemical analysis of the collected material, determine the composition of the substances and evaluate whether and eventually how this composition is reflected in the color of the flowers.

Working in the field in Olomouc also served as a test for PSI company, which is learning to use the Plant ScreenTM Field System in practice. In addition to biological material, the Crop Research Institute also provided knowledge in the field of morphology and calendula cultivation, while researchers from CATRIN provided knowledge from the connection between phenomics and metabolomics or experience with data evaluation.

"Palacký University has thus supported its activities in the Czech Plant Phenotyping Platform and contributed further towards reaching the Czech roadmap of large research infrastructures administered by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. It is great that the institutions have joined forces in this way in order to improve the procedure for other potential clients,“ said Lukáš Spíchal, an expert in plant phenotyping from CATRIN.

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